yet another Shiny New Idea … set in the desert!

Shiny New Idea: a new idea for a creative project that takes root while you are in the middle of a work-in-progress, and doesn’t let go until you devote time and attention to it.

Sometimes it just hits you out of nowhere starts sweeping you away. It would whisper of tantalising characters and settings in your ear, keep you up at night with vivid scenes, and basically distract you from what you’re working on at the moment to steal your attention and enthusiasm. Write me, write me! it will scream, until you are no longer able to resist it and you put your WIP on hold to go work on the Shiny New Idea.

Nooooo! Bad writer. Finish your shit before you move on to the next book!

But … but it’s so pretty. Look how shiny!

NO. You are almost halfway through your WIP. Do NOT abandon it now.

But this is sooo much better! And exciting! And shiny!

You get the gist. So yes, I caved in eventually.

The Shiny New Idea I’ve been obsessing over for days was birthed from this book:

And this drama, Ballad of the Desert:

(It stars Eddie Peng, too – yummm)

These are typically not up my alley at all – I’m not a period-drama person, or big on novels set in exotic settings I know nothing about – but there’s something so alluring and unusual and fresh about the desert that allows for so many possibilities. I’m getting starry-eyed just thinking of it! *__*

The idea took root in my head before I even realised it. I began dreaming of a lone princess in the desert and found myself figuring out her story. I dreamed of a stranger with eyes like danger and skin the colour of sun-warmed sand.

I started seeking out “desert music” like this

I started scribbling ideas into my notebook and plotting the opening scenes.

I started creating characters and diving into their backstory.

I started doing research.


5 Things Googled for Land of Sand and Song (yes, the story has a title already):

1. Atlas Mountains

Credit: Educational Geography
Image from Wikipedia Creative Commons

The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range which stretches across northwestern Africa extending about 2,500 km (1,600 mi) through Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert. The population of the Atlas Mountains is mainly Berbers.

 

2. Berbers

Credit: Samia Dib Benkaci

The Berbers or Amazighs are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa. The Berber identity is usually wider than language and ethnicity, and encompasses the entire history and geography of North Africa. Berbers are not an entirely homogeneous ethnicity and they encompass a range of phenotypes, societies and ancestries. The unifying forces for the Berber people may be their shared language, belonging to the Berber homeland, or a collective identification with the Berber heritage and history.

 

3. Numidia

Numidia (202 BC – 46 BC) was an Ancient Berber kingdom in what is now Algeria and a smaller part of Tunisia, in North Africa. Numidia was originally divided between Massylii in the east and Masaesyli in the west. During the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), Massinissa, king of the Massylii, defeated Syphax of the Masaesyli to unify Numidia into one kingdom.

The kingdom began as a sovereign state and later alternated between being a Roman province and a Roman client state. It was bordered by the kingdoms of Mauretania (modern-day Morocco) to the west, the Roman province of Africa (modern-day Tunisia) to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Sahara Desert to the south.

 

4. Mauretania

Mauretania (also spelled Mauritania) was in ancient times a part of North Africa corresponding to the Mediterranean coast of what is today Morocco.

Mauretania originally was an independent tribal Berber kingdom from about the 3rd century BC. It became a client state of theRoman empire in 33 BC, then a full Roman province after the death of its last king Ptolemy of Mauretania in AD 40.

 

5. River name etymologies

And we are just getting started.

BRB, getting lost in idea-land!

Oh, and if anyone has read that fantastic book or watched the show, I’d be happy to spaz over them with you. I am happily stuck in those worlds, and hope I never have to leave! :0)

Flash Fiction Friday – The Old Ones

 

Mountain gods, they were called among some tribes. Others believed them to be the children of the stars. Behind closed doors and in hushed tones, though, they were known as demons. But everyone agreed on one thing: they were old, very old. Hence their common moniker, the Old Ones.

The Old Ones were easily recognised by their eyes. Milky and eternal, their gaze was said to hold the secrets of the world since it was born. Of course, no one had ever lived long enough to verify that.

When the first war broke out, they stood atop their mountains, silent and unmoving like boulders, shards of sunlight playing off their marble-like skins as they watched. Helping was not what they did – empathy eluded them the way warmth did – especially when it meant getting involved in the trivial disagreements of the beasts. Because to the Old Ones, that was all they were. Beasts that whiled away their fleeting time in this world fighting over territory and power, shifting in and out of their skins gleefully like children who didn’t know better.

Soon, they will cancel each other out. It was as simple as evolution sometimes. The humans had one theory right, at the very least.

The Old Ones rather hoped they would destroy each other before any of them managed to unearth the Ash City. Buried under the cinders of the old civilisation before it crumbled, the Ash City was home to a million souls out for vengeance. Souls that had long forgotten love or mercy –

Rather like the Old Ones.

No, Rajaveik thought. They were different. They were more. They were better, infinitely better. They had the power of knowledge, reaped from endless cycles of creation and destruction, life and death and everything in between.

When the horns and bells cried out their strident warnings for the second time in history, Rajaveik was standing amongst his brothers and sisters atop the ragged jaws of the snow-capped mountains. Frost sat upon his eyelashes, his skin, but he felt neither the sting nor bite of the cold. A perpetual winter sat within his calcified heart, protecting him from the cruellest of elements.

From a distance, they would appear a strange sight: a row of proud, silent guardians anticipating the clangour of steel against steel, the shriek of claws and beaks and the primal calls of the shape-shifters.

They anticipated the dissolution of two enemy clans.

Rajaveik could almost taste the end – if it had a taste, it would be this: the sweet, heavy scent of a gathering storm, mingled with the acrid fumes from distant forest fires in the south. He sent a fervent wish to the heavens, even though his people scorned the notion of a higher power. Would that the world be spared of the petty squabbles of its children at last!

The Old Ones waited and waited. For the flurry of feathers, the terrible cries of petulant beasts, the songs of the sea children as they worked their magic.

But none came. There was only a thick, curdled silence as the world rested on its haunches under the dense grey sky.

And then the clouds rained blood.

 

*

It came without warning. One minute there was only the silence that folded in on itself infinitely, and then a crimson deluge was upon them, like the blood of a furious sun.

Rajaveik took a while to understand. Blood ran in rivulets down the planes of his muscled chest, arms, face, and it was not until the metallic taste registered on his tongue that he came to the realisation.

The sea children had fooled them all. They had relied on the oldest trick in the book – not their secret ocean magic, but a ruse that allowed them to steal out of this broken world and straight into an arguably better one.

The king’s abandonment – the sea king, who would soon rather suffer all the fates of his people than desert them – and the secret stash of bones in the bottom of the sea all made sense now.

This rain was the last of their escape plan, meant to distract and obscure. And everyone – even the Old Ones, who thought themselves canniest of all living creatures in this world – had fallen right into their plan.

They should never have let them have those bones.